Dr No & Round Hill

An early swim out to the small, horse shoe reef has been the only thing pressing each day..  I  swim out, feeling the water move from chill to warm then chill again as I approach the drop off.  Two spear fisherman, barbs glinting in the sun shot depths have a medium sized barracuda (though not big enough for ciguatera).   The fish flails at the end of a spear as it struggles upwards. I tread water, looking back towards the small cove of a beach at the villas nestled into the hillside, and can just make out Kingsley standing on the steps.  Sea blue coat visible against the whitewashed buildings.  He has been standing there for 46 years.

The days are meandering and lacking purpose.  Long naps are jumbled with piles of books, walks down Frangipani and Jasmine bombed lanes.  Snippets of French and Persian murmurings  are caught behind a hedge of Croton.  Swims in the pool are G & T infused while Tea has us overstuffed with scones, creme, and smoked marlin finger sandwiches.  We retreat often for late afternoon lay abouts.

As darkness tumbles the hillsides, tree frogs begin their shrill and peeping night music.  A piano plays from the depths of the famed bar as last light lingers then disappears with a sharp completeness.  We eat grilled lobster and curried goat with a waxing moon lapping at the shore.  Much later still, as last drinks are sipped,  a calypso trio begin to play softly and quietly against the humming night.

the main bar

Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, and Errol Flynn hared around the North Shore quite a bit.  Paths would inevitably cross at Round Hill, as would many others of their time.  In many ways it hasn’t changed.  There is a relaxed, slow paced grandeur.  Yes, JFK and Jackie O honeymooned here.  Truman Capote and Babe Paley fixtures too.  It doesn’t matter though.  The myth isn’t forced on you.  As others have said its a cashmere blanket of a place. Yours for the keeping.

Flynn
the man himself
coward at sea

It would be a lie to say that our shirts and coats aren’t influenced by British Colonialism.  Round Hill could be the club at a hill station in India, a private place in Ceylon.  Gin tinged and linen crumpled outposts of home and majesty.  High tea and a successful polo team just make it all the more so.  Inspiration assaults me…

I suppose it’s a bit of an anachronism on an island filled with massive resorts, tourist pocked beaches, and ongoing issues in Kingston.  Jamaica has never held anything for me yet it has always been within earshot.  In my youth a friend of the family was assassinated in his villa above the capitol.  Another year words of a divorce and an implication with Robert Shaw reached the family.  As I grew older and lit out for further flung places the cheap bucket trips to this island showed little appeal.

Recently the island reared it’s head during a read of Fleming’s “Dr. No”.  This, and other works have the mans love for the north shore sprawled across the often pulpiness of the page.  If you haven’t read the books you owe it to yourself.  Ideal for a short domestic route but equally at home on a Montego Bay run.  Just have their driver pick you up…..

penguin modern classic cover
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